Monday, July 31, 2017

Year 20?!

Tomorrow I begin my twentieth year of teaching.

Twenty years?! I still feel like a newbie, which is a good thing, as far as I'm concerned. Accepting that I don't know it all and that I still have so much to learn is one of the main reasons that I keep showing up each year, each day, each period.

A few months ago, I reflected on the past two decades in a layout that I created for a class at Get It Scrapped. It was recently shared on the GIS Instagram feed, which means that I can finally share it here.
This isn't the first layout that I've made about being a teacher, but it is the first that pulls together images from my first year of teaching through my most recent year of teaching. In the journaling, I reflect on the trajectory of my career and my shifting perceptions of the "job" that became a vocation.
Here's to the next twenty!

P.S. If you'd like to see a sketch of this page, you can find one at GIS. 

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Stash-Busting Challenge: Project #1

I'm done with the first of my layouts for the stash-busting challenge, and I have to say, this was pretty fun -- and rewarding, as I finally used much-loved items that I had been neglecting.

The journaling is on a card from Farmhouse Paper Co. Two Peas carried a few of their collections when I was a Garden Girl there.  The coffee-stained appearance of the card makes it perfect for this page about my daughter's job at a coffee shop. 
I crammed a lot on the card, I know -- it's 8-pt. font (Typenoksidi). Sorry for the eye strain. Ha! The stamp is from a Scraptastic Club set. 

The layout also includes background paper that I repurposed from an Anthropologie shopping bag, as well as three of the way-too-many Freckled Fawn arrow clips that I own and a paper arrow sticker from Crate Paper, arranged in a triangle to call attention to the pics and the journaling. I worked in some other kit items on the page, including strips of washi tape and part of a vintage tag from my JBS DT days.

Along the right side of the page, I added a stitched garland, comprised of squares cut from patterned paper, stamps from the Studio Calico "Tasty Beverage" set (bought months ago but used for the first time here), and Love, Elsie chipboard buttons from yesteryear.
Onward to project #2! 

(If you're interested in joining in the challenge, you can find the details here). 

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Stash-Busting Challenge: Kit Pic!

After spending the afternoon hunting for components for the Stash-Busting Challenge, I am happy to report that I now have a kit that I am really looking forward to working/playing with over the next few weeks. 
Here are the kit contents: 
1. Eight pieces of patterned paper scraps: Crate Paper/Maggie Holmes, Bella Blvd, Studio Tekturek, Love, Elsie. Daisy D's (left over from the last challenge), and KI Memories; four specialty paper/"other" paper scraps: paper cut from an Anthropologie shopping bag, KI Memories die-cut calendar paper, washi paper, and JBS perforated paper; two complete/unused sheets of patterned paper: one from Crate Paper and one from Studio Calico
2.  One yard of ribbon/trim: opted for two pieces of hemp cord and one piece of burlap trim, cut into 11" lengths 
3. One sticker sheet, with a catch: at least one sticker must be missing from the sheet: label stickers from Gossamer Blue
4. A pre-2015 alphabet set: American Crafts Typo Thickers (circa 2009, I believe).  
5. One opened package/container of scrappy product: Freckled Fawn arrow clips  
6.  One unopened package/container of scrappy product: rubber accents from Crate Paper 
7. One roll of tape: washi tape (brand unknown)
8.  One item or package of product from a company that no longer makes scrappy products:  Love, Elsie chip buttons 
9. Up to ten journaling and/or Project Life cards/tags: JBS (vintage tag), Crate Paper, Elle's Studio, random gray tag, Ali Edwards, Farmhouse Paper Co. 
10.    Two "wild card" items: Shimelle/American Crafts wood buttons and Crate Paper Cool Kid stickers 
11. A nearby item. Whoops! I just realized that I didn't photograph this with the rest of the kit contents. It's a packet from Freckled Fawn containing two acrylic words: "adventure" and "explore" (see image here)
Time to get scrapping! 

Up for a Stash-Busting Challenge (Again)?

Two years ago, in the quest to chomp away at my stash, I, along with other scrappy folk and crafty hoarding types, embarked upon a stash-busting challenge, based on the Ms. Pacman challenge from a few years prior.  A little over a month ago, Kat Benjamin (@kraftkat9) reminded me how much fun we had with the challenge, and I agreed that we should revisit it -- so let's do it! 

The "rules" change a bit each time we repeat the challenge, but the gist is the same: compile your own kit based on the guidelines, and use that kit to create a minimum of three projects (layouts, cards, etc.). 

This time around, we will stick with most of the same kit contents from the previous challenge, with a few adjustments.

1. Eight pieces of patterned paper scraps, four specialty paper/"other" paper scraps, and two complete/unused sheets of patterned paper that you know you should stop hoarding and should just start using.
2.  No more than one yard of ribbon/trim; if you want to make this extra challenging, no individual piece can measure more than 11" in length. 
3. One sticker sheet, with a catch: at least one sticker must be missing from the sheet.
4. A pre-2015 alphabet set (the old challenge asked for a pre-2013 set, but since two years have passed, we can compensate for the time change).  If you don't have a set this old (or don't feel like doing the research to figure out if the set is pre-2015), aim for your oldest. 
5. One opened package/container of scrappy product.    
6.  One unopened package/container of scrappy product. If you don't have any unopened product, opt for an opened package/contained that has hardly been used, or the newest package of product that you added to your stash. 
7. One roll of tape (washi tape or other decorative tape). 
8.  One item or package of product from a company that no longer makes scrappy products (or that has not had a new release within the past two years) or one of the oldest items in your stash. 
9. Up to ten journaling and/or Project Life cards/tags (if you don't have individual cards/tags, you can cut them from a journaling-card-style patterned sheet or use a printable, if you wish). 
Two "wild card" items. Include anything you've been wanting to use (regardless of whether it is old or new, opened or unopened).  

11. A nearby item. Grab something from your desk or craft area that is within arm's reach. This will be fairly easy to do if you are a mess-maker like me. If you are super-organized and have no items within reach, then head for the nearest drawer or bin, close your eyes, and reach blindly. The item that you retrieve will be the final addition to your kit. 
As with last time, the kit includes unlimited cardstock, adhesive, and "technique-type product" (e.g. stamps, stamping ink, paint, mist, stencils, embossing powder, etc.).  
If any of the guidelines above are cramping your style, feel free to modify them so that you can be your best stash-busting self.  For instance, if you're in the midst of working on a project, and you realize something that isn't in your kit but in your stash would look great on that project, then go ahead and add it anyway. 

Accounting for the rummaging and scavenging time as we compile our kits, plus more time to create three layouts, let's aim to complete all three projects by August 31 at 11:59 p.m. EST.  If you can't make it by then, no worries, but if you can, I'll enter you in a drawing for a scrappy giveaway. Just be sure to share your three projects on Instagram (I'm @jillscrap; feel free to use the hashtag #stashbustingchallenge2017 when posting your images), the Get It Scrapped Community on Facebook, or your blog (post a link in the comments below). Feel free to split up the posts. 

I'll update with my kit pic soon! Once you've made your own kit, take a photo of it, and blog (and/or share via Instagram or some other form of social media) your list of kit items. Then get started on those projects. I can't wait to see what you create! 

Ready, set, go!

Monday, July 17, 2017

Stories to Tell

When it comes to documenting the hard times, my advice has always been to push through, to tell that story, because if our albums are going to truly share our lives as we live them, they should radiate light but also acknowledge the shadows, the dark and difficult moments. We should be cautious about the difference between spinning the story of our lives and telling that story, truly. 

In the week before my recent surgery, when all I seemed able to do was to fixate on fear, I encountered a design team deadline. It occurred to me as I worked on the page that if something went wrong during the procedure or with my recovery, this could be the last page I would ever make.  And that left me overwhelmed.  

I pushed through, however, letting my feelings shape my focus, and I ended up creating a layout about my love and admiration for my daughter, and her bravery in moving forward in life, a separate person from her worrywart of a mother.  When I was done, I thought, if this is the last page I ever make, then so be it.  Imagine saying that about every page you make.  Morbid and possibly even melodramatic, I know -- but it was a breakthrough for me all the same.  

Though the surgery itself went well, other health concerns surfaced in the weeks that followed the surgery, and whatever peace or closure I might have felt in creating that "last" layout vanished, along with my creativity.   Scrapbooking seemed like something my other self, my healthier self, cared about. I wasn't sure if I would ever be that self again.  

There was no pushing through. There was just an urge to surrender to the worry, to shut down. For the first time in over a decade, I started seriously considering giving up scrapbooking. Don't all life stories end mid-sentence anyway? 

Then the days pieced themselves together into weeks, and the new and unknown became the normal and unknown. I haven't stopped worrying, but I have been making a greater effort not to let my worries consume me.  I've been spending time with family, and I am humbled by love's power to endure even as our bodies struggle to do so. 

This moment happened last week: 
Here's my uncle, in 1967 (the layout is from 2014): 
Maybe what I need to understand is that when I was thinking about stopping scrapbooking altogether, it was because I was coming to terms with the fact that my own narrative was possibly changing on me.  The fear that I had run out of stories to tell paralyzed me. 

I can't let that fear control me.  My uncle, the storyteller, still has stories to tell, even though he cannot shape those stories into words in the way he used to do, but they are there, in his eyes, in his smile, in his hands, in the family members who surround him and, even in his voicelessness, listen. 

Monday, July 10, 2017

Elle's Studio July Reveal

It's July 10, which means that there are lots of new Elle's Studio releases, including this month's kit and extras.  
It's also the time of month when the design team members share some of the projects they've created using Elle's Studio goodies. My July gallery layout incorporates two of my recent ES favorites, the Summer Journaling Tags and the Stanley Alphabet Stamps, solid and outline.
My yard is kind of a wreck, but it's also kind of a marvel. This layout documents how I've learned to find "comfort in chaos." 
I hand-cut strips of the scallop pattern found in the Live Laugh Love collection as well as from the Summer Journaling Tags, and layered the strips to create the paper equivalent of bushes and shrubs on the page. I worked the journaling into the mix, and then added some messy stitching here and there. 
Thanks for stopping by today! 

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Stuff Happens.

Just when I thought that I could make an early-June recovery and continue with my summer plans feeling better than ever, my health took a turn, with a few conditions colliding to great the perfect internal storm. Instead of enjoying summer at the beach or working toward my goal of being more active and healthy, I've spent the last month on the couch, binge-watching The Vampire Diaries (a pretty good series, as it turns out) and reading book after book -- that is, when I wasn't in doctor's offices and hospitals getting poked, prodded, and scanned.

Over the past few days, I've been feeling much better, but I'm still in need of answers, and am awaiting further tests.  There's so much waiting involved.  I just want to deal with everything NOW, and have it behind me.  It's been very stressful, but it's also helped me to realize more than ever what matters in life and what doesn't.  It's so easy to take good health for granted, because when we're healthy, we're healthy -- it's just the norm. We may not even realize how good feeling good feels, until we don't feel that way any longer. When we're not healthy, and aren't sure if we will ever return to being healthy again, it can actually be terrifying, and destabilizing, and exhausting.

As you might imagine, my creativity has been at an all-time low, but because deadlines are still deadlines, I've had to push through, and although I might have approached my most recent projects grudgingly, it turns out that having a creative escape can be quite therapeutic. For a few moments, I stopped worrying about my body and focused instead on something other than my anxieties.

I'm sad to say, I've given up on ICAD. I was back on track for a while there, but I just couldn't keep up with it.  Here are the last few cards that I completed. Maybe next summer I'll be up to the challenge.

Here's hoping your summer has been far more enjoyable than mine!